Tag - Las Vegas

How we accidently got a free vacation to Las Vegas

One fine afternoon at the local mall, my husband and I were approached by a man who opened up a conversation with: “How would you like a free vacation?” And just like that we were hooked into a trip we had never planned for.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

For just $150 we were given two nights in a four-star resort, a fifty-dollar visa gift card and a four-day cruise. All we had to do was sit through a two-hour sales presentation and tour. It seemed easy, but everyone knows that these are high-pressure sales presentations.

We booked our hotel reservation in Las Vegas, as it was the only place available for the dates we wanted. This was fine for us, because we live just a few hours from there, and a weekend away with our two young children was a welcomed break. At the time it seemed reasonable, but later we learned that some of the best sales people are in Las Vegas. As a result, they send as many people there as they can. Before we left, my husband and I vowed to just say no to timeshare, regardless of what the offer was. Just to be on the safe side, we spent a couple hours just saying no to each other for practice. Besides, we were bringing our two young children to the presentation, and they never let us sit long enough to eat a meal much less sit through a two-hour presentation.

free Cruise we won

free Cruise we won

We arrived at the nice resort early in the afternoon on a Thursday. During the brief check-in, they reminded us that we had to go to our presentation at 12 o’clock the next day. Our room was perfect for the four of us. It also included a small kitchen, which meant we could save some money by preparing our own food. Overall, a comfortable place to stay for two days. They did offer us an upgrade to a bigger room for just $50, but we declined and we were glad to save the money and stay with the basic. Because we arrived early, we also had time to head out to  the Strip—nothing like a brisk walk amid the lights and noise to make us feel like our real vacation had begun.

However, it didn’t take long until we were being bombarded by marketers with offers of free gifts, if we just give them two hours of our time for a sales presentation at a time share. At first we refused. After all, we were already planning to attend one, and so why would we want to subject ourselves to more? Then, we met a man that would change this vacation forever. In just 15 minutes, he provided us with all the skills we needed to get more out of attending the presentations, how to make the presentations last less than an hour, and how to get the most freebies from them. He used to be a timeshare sales manager and knew all the ins and outs of the business.

His first tip for us was to talk to several different time share vendors, in order to see who gave  the best offers. These guys don’t actually make money if you buy, they just make money on getting you to the sales presentation and will give you anything they can to get you there. Two: book as many as you can in one day, if possible, that way only one day of your vacation is spent on the actual sales presentation. Three: only book the ones that offer you a meal of some kind. It’s not just for the free food, but to give you something to do while they run through the mandatory sales presentation. Four: don’t be afraid to fake a cold or hangover. Five: when asked if you’re interested, just look them in the eye and say “Let me be honest, I’m only here for the free gifts.” Then hold your head up high and don’t fall prey to their last ditch efforts to get you to buy a timeshare (trust me the deals get better). Six: if you do become weak and buy a timeshare, remember you get three days to cancel the deal—that’s the law.

Visiting the Shark reef in Vegas

Visiting the Shark reef in Vegas

Armed with these tips, we decided to give them a try and see how much more we could get for our short trip. After all, we already felt like one day was being wasted on a sales presentation. Before the evening was up, we booked two more sales presentations, one breakfast and one dinner. We went back to our room early that evening to let the kids enjoy the pool, but we got them to bed early so that  they would be awake and wild for our next day. We figured if everything else failed, our kids were our way out. They can’t sit still for more than 10 minutes at a time, let alone for two hours of boring sales presentations.

I only have one thing to say this all those tips: they worked incredibly well. We made it to all three presentations, not one of them lasted more than an hour, and we were always the first group to leave. We only had to go on one real tour, the other two had given up by the time we had finished our food. By the third presentation, we felt like pros at saying no, we never even had to use the kids as a reason not to buy. Being upfront and honest was really the best way. We were there just for the free gifts, we were not in anyway interested in buying a timeshare, and, no, there was no deal they could have given me that would have made me change my mind. The food was just okay, but good enough to fill us up. Considering that the average person spends $70 a day on food in Vegas, we felt like a day of free eating was worth the $140 it saved us. We were done with all three presentations by about 5 pm, which gave us plenty of time to spend the evening out on the Strip with our children. As for the kids, they were surprisingly good for all of the presentations. They got lots of pictures to color, cookies to eat and juice to drink, and they got a lot of attention from everyone who went back to talk and play with them; so it was just a day of fun for them.

Enjoying a show in Vegas

Enjoying a show in Vegas

What did we get for our three hours of time? At the first presentation, we left with two show tickets worth $140, two dinner tickets worth $50, two buffet vouchers worth $70, two tickets to any attraction in Vegas worth $40.00 and $16.00 in cash. At the second presentation, we received the two nights at the resort, a 5-day cruise and a fifty-dollar visa gift card (total value $1040.00). We left the third presentation with one more night in Vegas and used it towards a third night on our trip (value: $150.00 and $125.00 in cash). The total worth for these three packages in free gifts was $1631.00, not bad for just saying no for three hours.

The next two days were great, and we had no problems using up all of our free gifts. We went to see shows and attractions, stayed in a four-star resort and ate like kings and queens—we felt as if were living the high-life. We were so glad we had done this once the trip was over. I admit that, at first, we were afraid of this whole time share business, but we had so much fun on our (almost) free vacation that we are thinking about doing it again soon.

Christmas Events In Las Vegas in 2014

Christmas in Las Vegas can truly be a magical experience. The holiday season draws everyone back into their childhood memories, especially when folks have kids of their own or are lucky enough to retain a childlike wonder at the lights and music. Several locations have become traditions for families during this time of year, particularly when the lights come on for the first time in celebration of the season and, in one case, when snow gently falls as you gaze up in wonder at the huge Christmas tree. This is a time when photo ops are around every corner and when the wonder of the festive season truly comes to light.

A Cactus Garden Wonderland

Cactus garden

Cactus garden lighting

For 20 years, Ethel M Chocolates has presented a gift of wonder to the community. Thursday, November 13, 2014, marks the 21st Anniversary of the Cactus Garden Lighting, when the sparkling lights and inflatables come to life with the turn of a switch. Local radio celebrity, Mercedes, will be officiating, with performances by local choirs, MOSAIC and an appearance by our past mayor, Oscar Goodman. The experience can only be described as magical, as the scent of chocolate from the chocolate factory fills the air and the darkness is lit by over half a million twinkling lights. Walk the pathways and marvel at the festive atmosphere and the experience of all the cacti shimmering in the evening air. Visit the M&M shop, take the self-guided factory tour – describing the history and future of chocolate, sustainability, Mars’ responsibility toward cocoa farmers and how Mr. Mars created the factory and shop in honor of his mother, Ethel (M).

Ethel M Cactus garden illuminations

Ethel M Cactus garden illuminations

Taste a sample of pure, preservative-free deliciousness, prepared by Henderson’s own chocolatier over the past 34 years, and toast the evening with a cup of the best hot chocolate in town. This has been a tradition for, quite literally, generations of residents and guests; so be sure to take a stroll between the 13th of November and the 31st of December to make this part of your holiday experience. The event is free, and the lights are on from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The only cost to attend the evening of the lighting is your gift of an unwrapped, new toy to be delivered to the factory store. All toys will go to HELP Southern Nevada for underprivileged kids and donations will be accepted until Christmas eve. Oh, by the way, Santa will be there for photo ops Thursdays through Sundays, right up to Christmas eve when he has to leave to deliver his gifts.

Ethel M Chocolates & Botanical Cactus Garden, 2 Cactus Garden Drive, Henderson NV 89014


Town Square Holiday Celebration

Town Square decorations

Town Square decorations

There is something miraculous about snow in the desert. Once again, Town Square transforms into a Winter Wonderland on Thursday, November 13, 2014, Their beloved Holiday Tree Lighting Spectacular parade heralds the arrival of Santa in a horse-drawn carriage, to perform his Christmas ritual of photos with children and pets in his house. Snow will gently fall as the lights come on, and the streets will become vintage Norman Rockwell-themed vistas, as vignettes are presented to the general public. Nightly snowfalls are promised at 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. each evening from November 15 through December 24th. As you gaze up in wonder at the huge, 45-foot Christmas tree, enjoy the rare feeling of the flakes on your face, while the sounds of seasonal music fill your ears. Vintage, magical and unique, if this isn’t yet a holiday tradition for your family, it will be after your first experience.

 Town Square

6659 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119

Staying For Cheap on the Strip (Is Not For the Faint of Heart)

The Riviera Vegas

The Riviera Vegas

Las Vegas is easily one of my favorite travel destinations, a fact easily supported by my recurring visits (I’m up to eight now!) That being said, Vegas is not the best place to plan a cheap vacation. An ideal trip to Sin City includes fine dining, high end shows and plenty of shopping, all of which requires some serious moolah. And that doesn’t even include hitting the tables!

One of the easiest ways to cut costs during a Vegas holiday is stay in an inexpensive hotel. Unfortunately most of the cut-rate motels are located off The Strip and you end up spending a fortune on high priced taxis. However, there are a few hotels and casinos on The Strip you can book for under $50 a night, provided you stay Sunday through Thursday.

Just make sure your expectations are sufficiently lowered. These are not five star resorts.

Riviera Hotel and Casino

The Riviera may be one of the most well know and widely filmed casinos in the world. It opened on April 20, 1955 as the first high-rise on the Las Vegas Strip and has gone through many owners over the years, including Mafioso, two of the Marx brothers and Dean Martin.

In July of 2010, the Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as they had lost $4.5 million in the first quarter of the year. The decline in popularity of the Riviera in Las Vegas was caused in part by a decline in pedestrian traffic in the vicinity of the casino and partly due to a shutdown in the construction of the adjacent Fontainebleau Resort Las Vegas and Echelon Place.

The 58-year old hotel has really begun to show its age.

  • Pets allowed
  • Wireless internet connection in public areas
  • Central Strip location
  • Free comedy show
Guest Complaints:
  • Parking garage difficult to find
  • Outdated
  • Discourteous staff
  • Guests often automatically booked into smoking rooms and forced to pay for an upgrade.
  • Casino and rooms smell bad
  • Dark hallways
  • Surprise resort fees at check-out

Excalibur Hotel and Casino

The Excalibur

The Excalibur

When Excalibur opened on June 19, 1990, it was the largest hotel in the world with over 4,000 rooms and covering over 70 acres. Originally designed as a theme resort featuring medieval themed statues and scenery, the Excalibur has lost most of its identity as part of a modernization project.

The Excalibur is home to the Tournament of Kings, a medieval jousting tournament that includes a banquet feast. The show has had a continuous run since it’s opening – which coincided with that of the casino – in 1990.

  • Heated Pool
  • Free Parking
  • Enjoyable Shows
  • Clean Rooms
Guest Complaints:
  • Outdated
  • Rooms far from parking
  • Guests constantly hassled by people selling time-shares

Luxor Hotel and Casino



Thanks to its fascinating architecture, the Luxor is one of the most iconic casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. At the time of the casino’s opening in October of 1993, it was the tallest building on the strip and contained 2,526 rooms. In 1998, a theater and two additional hotel towers rooms were added.

Much like the Excalibur, the Luxor was originally a themed resort and featured a Nile River Tour and King Tut’s Tomb and Museum. In July 2007, plans were announced for a $300 million renovation that would remove much of the ancient Egyptian theme and replace it with more adult-oriented and modern lounges, restaurants and clubs.

The casino is home to the Luxor Sky Beam which is the strongest beam of light in the world. On a clear night, the Sky Beam is visible up to 275 miles away by aircraft at cruising altitude.

  • Heated Pool
  • Free Parking
  • Lovely Architecture
  • Beautiful Pool Area
Guest Complaints:
  • High fees for early check-in
  • Elevators (also known as inclinators) are in poor working condition
  • Carpet in rooms and hallways wrinkled and coming up
  • Wi-Fi inaccessible in rooms
  • AC units in room loud and underpowered

I have personally stayed in all three of these locations, although my stay at the Luxor was during the height of its reign as a theme resort. I recommend the Excalibur if you’re looking for a hotel that’s not a total dive, but has the benefit of location and low price.

As for the rest of your stay, take in a Cirque Du Soleil show (LOVE is my personal favorite), eat at a gourmet restaurant (such as B & B Ristorante or Bouchon at the Venetian) and stroll the Forum Shoppes at Caesar’s Palace. There’s so much to see and do in Las Vegas, don’t blow the bank on your hotel room.

Susan Crown is a globe-trotting, Vegas-loving mom from Jacksonville, Florida. She writes on behalf of Holiday Place, a booking company that focuses on tailor made holidays for any occasion. When she’ not writing (or traveling) she loves to watch bad horror movies, eat loads of greasy bacon and play in the park with her two children.

Hot Activities in Vegas for 2013

Las Vegas Welcome sign

Las Vegas Welcome sign

by Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin,

No matter how many times you’ve been to Las Vegas, there’s always something new to try. So put your poker chips away and head out of the casino to try a few new things on and off “The Strip” for 2013:

Come for the people-watching and stay for the burgers at the Fat Bar (3763 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-736-4733, fatbarlasvegas.com). Connected to the famous Fat Burger, it’s a great place to grab a drink and people watch on the amazing Vegas Strip.

The Guns and Ammo Garage (5155 S. Dean Martin Dr., 702-440-4867, gunsandammogarage.com), just off the Strip, will show you how to shoot your weapon of choice. Try an UZI, AK-47 or Tommy Gun or many others for an experience that really can only be found in Vegas. Packages start at $99.

If, like Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas, as far back as you can remember, you always wanted to be a gangster, the Mob Attraction (Tropicana Hotel, 702-739-2662, mobattraction.com) is for you. Learn about the history of the Mafia in Las Vegas, and try to become a made man yourself. Tickets are $33.



Let Cirque du Soleil amaze you at Zarkana (Aria, 877-253-5847, www.cirquedusoleil.com). Their newest show is a rock opera with incredible acrobatics currently playing at the Aria. Cirque are the true innovators of Vegas entertainment, and Zarkana is no exception. Tickets start at $69.

Do you ever dream of being a sports superstar? Score (Luxor, 702-262-4200, www.scorelv.com) helps you live the dream, sign a multi- million dollar contract and enjoy challenges like changing a NASCAR tire or throwing a fastball, all while viewing tons of sports memorabilia on display. Tickets are $28.

Want to get the band back together, be a rock star for a day, or just hang out and jam? Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp (3485 W. Harmon Ave., 888-762-BAND, www.rockcamp.com) can help out with all of that and more. “Rock Star for a Day” packages start at $299.

Starting in June, SlotZilla (877-Vegas-4-U, www.vegasexperience.com) will provide visitors with a very Vegas experience. Starting from an 11-story slot machine-styled launching point, you’ll be able to zoom down Fremont Street by zip-line.

It can be easy to forget that there’s nature just outside Las Vegas. Flightlinez (702-293-6885, www.fligtlinezbootleg.com) wants to help you remember, with zip-line rides at Bootleg Canyon, where you can hit speeds of up to 60 mph.

When you think “Vegas,” you may not think “fine art.” However, the Warhol Out West exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (Bellagio, 888-987-6667, www.bellagio.com) is a great way to break up casino-hopping and get a little culture in. Tickets are $16.

The Las Vegas Strip at midnight

The Las Vegas Strip at midnight

Strip club’s are not just a night activity now that Sapphire Pool and Day Club (3025 S. Industrial Road, 702-869-0003, www.sapphirepoollv.com) has opened. The club is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, and offers a free limo pickup, so you can keep your cash, for you know… tipping.

Dig This (3012 S. Rancho Dr., 702-222-4344, www.digthisvegas.com) is one of those things that they would only come up with in Vegas. With the guidance of trained professionals, visitors can learn to operate a crane or a bulldozer. Living out your fantasies of construction work starts at $249 a session.

No matter what month it is, it’s always Oktoberfest at the Hofbrauhaus (4510 Paradise Rd., 702-853-BEER, www.HofbrauhausLasVegas.com). Stop by for a brat and a beer, and be sure to try one of their giant pretzels flown over from Germany.

The Blue Man Group (800-BLUEMAN, www.blueman.com) has recently moved to the Monte Carlo, with a new and improved version of their stage show. Tickets for the all-ages-friendly show start at $59.

To hear more about what to do and “Hot Activities in Vegas for 2013” listen to this new Travel Brigade Podcast with Kathleen Curry and Geoff Griffin below episode below.

Listen to internet radio with Travel Brigade on BlogTalkRadio
Photo Credits

Credit Las Vegas News Bureau for the LV sign and skyline shot.

Credit Cirque du Soleil on the Zarkana photo
Copyright-Travel Brigade © uncharted101.com

The top 5 must visit casinos of Las Vegas

 Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Going to Las Vegas is a daunting trip to organize as there is just so much to do and see. So here is a short list for what the top five must see casinos are and why.
5. Wynn Las Vegas
The Wynn Las Vegas is in an incredible fifty story building that is covered completely in beautiful glass that makes it sparkle during the day and inside the actual casino is considered one of the best in the whole of Vegas. There is a huge assortment of amusements and live tables to keep you occupied for hours.

4. Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino
The Rio is unlike anything else in the whole of Vegas and that is a great thing, it has luxury rooms and fantastic restaurants that will keep anyone happy who visits. But the Rio really stands out when you walk into the casino and see the fun and colorfully inspired Brazilian look. When you gamble at the Rio it really feels like a party.
3. The Venetian
One of the best casinos in the world, The Venetian has an absolutely staggering 120,000 square foot floor plan. This amount of space gives more than enough room for all the casino games you could ever think of. As well as all the games though, they also have a wide variety of suites and other amenities that will dazzle and delight.
2. Bellagio
When it’s luxury that you are looking there is no need to look any further than the Bellagio. When you step foot in the casino there is no denying that this is a higher class of casino for people to gamble away
untold amounts of money without a care in the world. But then there are the suites and facilities that will take your breath away when you go to stay there.
1. MGM Grand Las Vegas
The MGM is the best of all worlds all rolled into one amazing building, it has one of the greatest casino floors in the world and to follow this up all of the restaurants and rooms available are the best that money can buy meaning that a stay here will not disappoint and will show you a real Vegas experience.
Before embarking on your travels to the casinos it might be a good idea to get some practice in at an online casino beforehand so you don’t end up wasting your entire budget on the first game of roulette you play.

Las Vegas Outside the Casinos

    Las Vegas-NV

Las Vegas-NV

Las Vegas is famous around the world for its upmarket casinos, where vacations are made or destroyed on the roll of a dice or the turn of a card. But gambling isn’t all this desert oasis has to offer.

Plenty of Nevada visitors feel that sinking feeling as they sit at the blackjack table, but to feel it for real you have to step outside and check out the SkyJump at the Stratosphere. Hurl yourself over the edge of the building and you’ll fall 108-storeys before slowly landing at the bottom thanks to a pair of cables that ensure your safety.

As you slow down you’ll have a chance to see the Las Vegas skyline from above and can even choose whether to take the plunge in the burning Nevada daylight or by the neon nightlights of the Strip. This ride is open until late.

Alternatively, check out the New York-themed roller coaster at New York-New York. Sitting in what at first glance appears to be a yellow taxi cab, you’ll climb 200 feet before dropping into a hair-raising series of twists and spirals. If you want, you can even get married on it.

Getting married is, of course, another notorious escapade during Las Vegas holidays. The Graceland Wedding Chapel is famous around the world after appearing in films like The Hangover, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fools Rush In. It’s also the wedding-venue of choice for Bon Jovi, Billy Ray Cyrus and Rob Zombie. And, of course, it’s known for providing Elvis impersonators to perform the ceremony.

If you’re thinking about getting married and suspect that you would have a change of heart if someone threw ice water over you, head along to the Adventuredome at Circus Circus. There you’ll find the Rim Runner; a soothing ride along a gentle stream that climaxes with a drop down a 60-foot waterfall.

For something a little less physical, check out a Las Vegas show at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Modeled after New York’s Madison Square Garden, this venue has played host to artists like Elton John, Backstreet Boys and Bon Jovi, as well as sports events and rodeos. If you’re visiting for a few days, check out some of the other big show venues as well – Vegas is nearly as well known for concerts by global megastars as it is for gambling.

Finally, why not visit some of the city’s museums. Unlike more traditional city break destinations, Las Vegas tends to house its exhibits inside the hotels. At The Mandalay Bay hotel you can visit Shark Reef, or even swim with the fish if it takes your fancy.

Alternatively, visit the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art Museum for some classical culture or find out about Nevada’s plant and animal life at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.

Useful info:


Las Vegas: A Must Visit Destination

Las Vegas Welcome sign

Las Vegas Welcome sign

A city in North America offering maximum fun elements to the tourists with utmost unusualness, Las Vegas appeals a number of visitors for its matchlessness. Mesmerizing skylines, stylish hotels, elegant casinos and several other attractions, the city offers an exotic tourist place for the travelers from all over the world. It has too much do and too much see for the visitors. Here below is the list of some amazing attractions of the city that nowhere else can be seen. It is a list of must do things in Las Vegas.

Cirque du Soleil

This show is presented in many cities but the show performed at Las Vegas is something that one should not miss. The show will amaze you in many ways with its exclusive presentation and performance. It is presented on a large scale at large stage with rare grandeur.

Gondola Ride

Must take a gondola ride at the Venetian Hotel, whenever visiting Las Vegas. The rides are really romantic and if you are coming with your spouse or beloved, you should never miss a chance to enjoy it. The gondoliers even sing for the riders.

Indoor Skydiving

Indoor skydiving is a must enjoy activity when you are in Las Vegas! It is the right thing to do for you if sacred to jump with a parachute. Indoor skydiving gives you an experience close to it but much safer than this. To enjoy this activity, you will have to wear special flight suit, goggles, and fly over a tunnel generating wind. It will keep you from falling down.

Grand Canyon

You will miss something extraordinary if you don’t visit the Grand Canyon when in Las Vegas. Located in the nearby Arizona, it is a long drive from the city but brings an amazing experience for you. Take 1 day vacation to visit this place and believe me you will never regret for it. This canyon is simply not a crack in the plane but it is a massive, stunning and awesome space that is wonderfully created by a tiny Colorado River.

Helicopter Ride

Helicopter Ride is very trendy activity to enjoy in Las Vegas. If heights don’t make you scare, add the helicopter ride in your Las Vegas ‘must do list’. Few known flying destinations in Las Vegas are the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.

Zip Line

Are you interested in enjoying something thrilling? If your answer is yes then go for a zip line tour over the Bootleg Canyon. Situated slightly away from Las Vegas in the Boulder City, this enthralling tour offers some fun-filled moments to the visitors. The speed of this zip line is up to 60 miles per hour. It will allow you flying over the mountains and enjoying the outstanding views of Boulder City and Lake Mead.

Las Vegas has a lot more for its visitors. You will never be disappointed by visiting a city that so much to offer you. Explore some cheap airfaredeals on internet to make sure of visiting a wonderful destination at irresistible rates.

This is a guest post done by Amrita from BookEasyTrip.com, India’s leading online travel portal. She loves to write about travel & tourism and maintains a blog BookEasyTripTravelBlog.com to exchange innovative travel ideas.

Absinthe in Las Vegas, the Hottest Show on the Strip

    Absinthe - The Gazillionaire Credit Tom Donoghue

Absinthe – The Gazillionaire Credit Tom Donoghue

While visiting Las Vegas, make sure you make time for the hottest ticket in town Absinthe.

It’s amazing circus acts, it’s irreverent comics, it’s burlesque numbers, and it’s all under one tent. In an era of ever bigger, more extravagant Las Vegas shows, Absinthe has become the hot show on The Strip by going for stripped-down, small and intimate. The show takes place in a small tent right on the grounds at Caesars Palace.

Once inside, you’re just a few yards away from a stage that isn’t much bigger than the typical living room. Suddenly, acrobats are doing amazing stunts seemingly right above you, to jaw-dropping effect. However, your jaw will find its way back up between acts to burst into laughter as “The Gazillionaire,” the character who not only funded the show but hosts it, and his faithful assistant “Penny Pibbits” engage the audience in ribald and politically incorrect humor. Check out this radio interview with Gaz and Penny from Absinthe to get an idea of their style of humor and find out more about the show. The style of humor during the performance definitely gets members of the audience involved to hilarious effect, just one more benefit of Absinthe’s small setting.

    Absinthe - Penny Pibbets Credit-Tom-Donoghue
Absinthe – Penny Pibbets Credit-Tom-Donoghue

“There’s other shows that put a lot of money into the sets and everything. We wanted to kind of flip that over and do the most ridiculously simple, intimate, little thing we could do,” says the The Gazillionaire. “In this day and age, you know, you can compete with ‘Avengers’ on the 3D IMAX screen, or you go the other way and just put a bunch of crap really close to everyone and you feel a part of it.”

Absinthe calls itself an “acro-cabaret,” with the cabaret portion coming from a couple of numbers from burlesque-style performer Melody Sweets as “The Green Fairy.”

The tent is located in the Roman Plaza at Caesars Palace with shows running every night but Monday. There are 8 and 10 p.m. shows on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with 8 p.m.-only shows on Wednesday and Sunday.

For more information on tickets call 800-745-3000.


The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village, Las Vegas

Enchanted Carousel

Enchanted Carousel

One of our previous Christmas traditions was one evening enjoying the light display at Sunset Park, to be followed the next night by a trip to Opportunity Village for their Magical Forest. Both events were special, both were well worth revisiting each year.  Unfortunately, Sunset Park no longer has its gift of lights, so that leaves more time for The Magic Forest!

I was devastated when the old Opportunity Village burned down, but am delighted with the new location. The Magical Forest is everything that you want at Christmas: a beautiful display of lights, games, food kiosks (you have to have the funnel cakes!), even artificial snow! It’s usually moderately cool by then, so be sure to wear a jacket in the evening – you won’t be sorry. This is the place for fun, friends and family. We found it well worth the admission cost, and will definitely be visiting again this year, to see what’s new and to see some of our favorite older things too.

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village

The Magical forest features two passenger trains, an antique carousel, parades, carnival games, and the jolly old elf himself! No wonder this has been the place to be in Vegas for over 15 years now! It runs from just around Thanksgiving until the end of December, and proves that winter wonderlands truly can exist in a desert!

Enjoy a ride on the passenger train. The FOREST EXPRESS winds it way through the two acre Forest giving visitors another angle to view the many trees and displays.

The ENCHANTED CAROUSEL will delight riders and spectators alike. Featuring beautiful animals, lights and traditional carousel music you will find yourself lost in the moment.

Feeling hungry yet? Visit the GIFT BOX CAFE and enjoy a warm funnel cake (my personal favorite), hot dog, burger or pizza as you are entertained nightly by local performing groups. Another Magical Forest favorite is the GINGERBREAD HOUSE display and raffle and don’t forget to stop by the GIFT CABIN, a great place to get some holiday shopping done.

All Proceeds raised at the Magical Forest will benefit people with disabilities at Opportunity Village. Since 1954 Opportunity Village has been serving men and women in our community to provide them with programs and services to help enrich their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Opportunity Village, taking a daytime tour of our campus or getting involved with Opportunity Village or the Magical Forest, please call (702) 259-3741.
The Magical Forest  is open nightly at 5:30PM from Saturday, November 19th 2011 – Saturday, December 31, 2011 , closing Sundays – Thursdays at 9:00PM and at 10:00PM on Fridays and Saturdays. There are plenty of special events and offers throughout the Forest season.   It’s located at 6300 West Oakey Blvd, Las Vegas, NV with parking behind the CSN parking lot.

Natural history comes alive at the Springs Preserve, Las Vegas

There is a special place in Vegas where you can visit natural history and watch it come alive, if you dare! Far from the glitz and glamor of the Strip, both in distance and historically, Springs Preserve offers everything from archaeology to new ways of viewing nature at their exhibits.

Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve

In the Dark :

Celebrates the creatures of the night, be they creepy, crawly or of the winged variety. A special exhibit in the Origen Gallery. I had no idea that the word “Origen” was selected because it blends the words “original” and “generations.” What a perfect way to celebrate life and acknowledge the history of Nevada while looking toward the future! Many folks who live here don’t realize that the Springs Preserve’s Origen Museum Living Collections features a host of native mammals, reptiles and invertebrates. Part of the Natural Mojave Gallery, these exhibits allow you to observe at close hand some of our most famous desert dwellers, and helps visitors understand how these creatures have come to adapt to the extreme temperatures and arid climate of the Mojave. From now until September 25th, 2011, you can see all the “Bugs” at the Origen, and until September 5th, 2011, you can explore “Trees.” In October, Springs will be hosting a “Scavenger Scarecrow Contest,” just right for the season! There’s always something cool at Springs!

The Rotunda leads you to a new world, where new experiences await. Included are:

Lizard Habitat

You can find nine different species of lizards, including the desert iguana, chuckwalla and tiger whiptail among the rocks and boulders.

Desert Cottontails

Cute, fluffy and almost close enough to touch, they hop about an exterior enclosure, where you can see them from different perspectives, the most fun being via a domed window beneath the habitat!

Gray Fox

The fox may sleep in its burrow during the day, but you can see it through a small window nestled in the dark rockwork cave. After the sun goes down, the fox emerges to roam among native plants and rocks.

Botta’s Pocket Gopher

Through a window, guests can view an excavated trench that exposes the network of burrows created by Botta’s pocket gopher. Nearby scuttle desert tarantula and desert hairy scorpions (safely behind glass, of course!)

Ant Colony

Three interconnected terrariums house a harvester ant colony, including 2 living chambers and a foraging chamber. You can watch them busy at work in a nest on an accompanying monitor!

Gila Monster

You can view Gila monsters in their burrows at eye level when you explore a grotto of large rocks. Open a sculpted Gila monster and you will see the fatty deposits in its tail that helps him survive for long periods of time without eating.

Night Life

There was Night Life in Vegas way before the strip, back when the land was all desert with nary a palm tree to be seen! Recluses, sidewinders and widows wandered freely, searching for shelter and sustenance. Here you can also see the newest member of this exclusive set – the Bark scorpion. Come see “who’s who” in Vegas’ venomous world…. if you dare! To view videos of this ever-evolving exhibit,

please visit their website. Springs Preserve – 333 S. Valley View Blvd. at US 95.

Open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.